Fatwa No : 87148
Meaning of Iman, Islam and Ihsan
Fatwa Date : Muharram 5, 1425 / 25-2-2004
Explain the meaning of al-Iman, al-Islam, al-Ihsan in the light of Qur’an and Hadith of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam).
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.
Islam has three stages: Islam, Iman, and Ihsan.
Islam: The meaning of Islam is as defined by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) when he was asked by the Angel Gabriel (Alaihi As-Salaam): “To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is His Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam), to establish the prayers, to give Zakah, to fast the month of Ramadan, and to make pilgrimage to Makkah, if one is able to do so”. [Reported by Muslim and others].
Iman: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said that Iman is, "To believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, to believe in meeting Him, to believe in His Messengers, the Resurrection and the predestination." [Reported by Bukhari, Muslim and others].
This is the meaning of Islam and Iman if they are mentioned in one context. However, if only one of them is mentioned, then each one encompasses the meaning of the other one. If the word Islam only is mentioned, it includes the meaning of Iman, and vice-versa.
By the definitions of Islam and Iman, we notice that Iman is about inwardly actions, and Islam is about outside actions.
Ihsan: Ihsan is exclusively the highest status of religion, its meaning is: "To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not see Him, He sees you." This is the definition of Ihsan as stated by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam).
That’s to say that Ihsan has two stages: the highest one is to worship Allah as if you see Him; if you cannot attain this status of worship, then worship Him being certain that He sees you and that He is All-Aware of your actions and deeds.
Allah knows best.